As the year draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect on both our achievements and our mistakes. We craft a strategy for having more of one and fewer of the other in the coming year – or at least have them come out even, or commit mistakes that we actually learn from. (I heard a great line in a movie the other day: “Experience is a cruel teacher. It gives the exam first, then the lesson.”)
For writers, reflection usually involves topics we wanted to write about, but didn’t. An important tenet of writing is having a news hook, an answer to the question why are you telling me this now? Several times over the last couple of years, I’ve wasted some really good news hooks.
So here’s a wrap-up of some of the things I meant to write about but never did.
Anne Francis. I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since she passed away. I had the biggest crush on her when Honey West was on the air. I wrote to her around my birthday asked her for a picture of her in an evening gown with Bruce, the ocelot in the show. I figured she’d just send one of the canned pictures from the opening of the show, but no, she sent a picture of her, dressed as I’d requested, and Bruce, and the birthday-appropriate greeting, “Best wishes, Anne Francis” (see graphic). For years, I thought she’d done it just for me. Only through the magic of Google Images did I realize it was indeed mass-produced – but that did nothing to dispel my feelings for her, and I should have paid tribute to her when I had the chance.
Walt Disney Family Museum. I’m still not sure why the Walt Disney Family Museum is on the grounds of the San Francisco Presidio rather than somewhere in southern California, but I visited it earlier this year. The absolute pinnacle of the exhibits is a miniature representation of Disneyland about 12 feet in diameter.
It’s special to boomers because it contains everything that had been proposed by the time of his death in 1966. That’s the Disneyland I love the most – the one of my adolescence, the one whose map hangs on the wall of my office, the one of my Grad Nite celebration. The display is so precise, showing people, the skyway cars going through the Matterhorn, the grottos next to Sleeping Beauty’s castle, everything that made the Disneyland of our childhood special. I asked the docent guarding the exhibit what it cost, and he estimated about $1 million.
Writing about the museum would have given me the opportunity to suggest that if the Disney Co. wants to make money, they should stop putting parks in Paris and Tokyo and wherever else, and simply reproduce the original Disneyland somewhere. Boomers would go stark raving mad and storm the gates. Hall of Presidents, no!; Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, si! Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, no!; Nautilus, Triton, Sea Wolf, Skate, Skipjack, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Ethan Allen, si!
Colonoscopies. I really should have written about the absolute idiocy of a friend of mine having his first colonoscopy under anesthesia, and then driving himself home. You always remember your first colonoscopy, the same way you remember your first fingernail being yanked out.
The great thing about writing about colonoscopies is the chance to reference humorist Dave Barry’s classic column, A Journey Into My Colon. In it, he writes about this horrible liquid called MoviPrep, which basically ensures that not only is there no food remaining in your colon, but that it will remain an inhospitable environment for weeks to come. Barry wrote that MoviPrep makes you eliminate food that you haven’t even eaten yet. Above all, he intones, “We must never allow it to fall into the hands of America’s enemies.”
As my own last colonoscopy was set to commence, and the anesthesia was kicking in, my gastroenterologist asked me who was driving me home afterwards. When I answered, “You are!” it was clear that I was sufficiently drugged to begin the procedure. After his own procedure ended, on the other hand, my friend cajoled the medical staff into believing that there was some imaginary driver waiting for him out in the parking lot without access to a cell phone. I can’t believe they bought it. But when I talked to him that evening, he sounded fine.
It only became clear what a doofus he’d been when he called me the next day and asked, “Did we talk on the phone last night?” I confirmed that we had, and he admitted he had no memory of it. I’m hoping it’s safe to write about it now because the statute of limitations has lapsed. Or is there no statute of limitations on stupidity?
Here’s hoping for a 2013 full of fond memories, without regrets or colonoscopies.
Middle Age Cranky will be taking the rest of 2012 off. See you back here on January 7, 2013.